The ANU radioactive ion beam capability is based on a 6.5 Tesla superconducting solenoid which filters out unwanted ions, and focuses them on a secondary reaction target, where nuclear reactions take place.
Some of the lightest nuclei, such as stable 6,7Li and 9Be, and radioactive 6He, 8Li are weakly-bound compared to their neighbours due to their cluster structure. As a result, they show a huge variety of behaviours which challenge our understanding of nuclear reactions.
As international projects developing large radioactive isotope accelerator facilities come online in the next few years, it is becoming crucial to understand the reactions of these unusual nuclei. Further, these nuclei were involved in Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN). Detailed understanding of nuclear reactions are needed to improve our understanding of BBN.
In particular, reactions of light weakly-bound nuclei show a reduced probability of fusing to form a single composite system. This reduced amount of fusion is a significant open question, and the physics behind this suppression is not established.
The work of the group involves experimental and theoretical investigations aimed at understanding the interactions of stable and unstable weakly-bound nuclei. Experimental work centres around a two pieces of instrumentation: a new radioactive beam capability at the ANU which uses innovative detectors to track each ion that passes through. This capability is coupled with a large position sensitive silicon detector array to make complete measurements of the reactions of weakly-bound nuclei. This array is used to gain unprecedented insight into the mechanisms and zeptosecond (10-21 s) time-scales of these reactions.
Students may do hands-on developmental work and/or experiments and analysis of breakup and fusion reactions, and may be involved in theoretical modelling and simulations.